in U.S. history
The history of immigration to the United States is, in many ways, a
record of ethnic and racial conflict. Almost all new immigrant groups
have faced a degree of resistance, ranging from quiet disapproval to
blatant discrimination and violence, before being accepted as part of
the American population. History books have traditionally romanticized
the idea of the American "melting pot" in which the cultures
of all ethnic groups combine into a new, unique American culture. More
recently, however, many scholars have argued that becoming an American
essentially entails adopting the ways of a dominant culture that is
strongly based on Anglo-Saxon traditions and ideals; this phenomenon
of adaptation has been termed "Anglo-conformity."
a political and social movement that pits native-born Americans (themselves
descendants of earlier immigrants) against newer arrivals, has been
a persistent theme in American history.
Excerpt of a review by Marjorie J. Podolsky of Immigration in U.S.
History edited by Carl L. Bankston III and Danielle Hidalgo, both
of Tulane University READ
U.S. political party that flourished in the 1850s. The Know-Nothing
party was an outgrowth of the strong anti-immigrant and especially anti-Roman
Catholic sentiment that started to manifest itself during the 1840s.
A rising tide of immigrants, primarily Germans in the Midwest and Irish
in the East, seemed to pose a threat to the economic and political security
of native-born Protestant Americans.
Britannica Online FULL
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
From the time of the U.S. acquisition of California (1848) there had
been a large influx of Chinese laborers to the Pacific coast. They were
encouraged to emigrate because of the need for cheap labor, and were
employed largely in the building of transcontinental railroads. By 1867
there were some 50,000 Chinese in California, most of them manual laborers.
In the following decades a great deal of anti-Chinese sentiment arose
in California, partly because the growing American labor force had to
compete with cheap Chinese labor and partly because many Americans were
opposed to further immigration by what they considered to be an inferior
people. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act banned immigration of Chinese
laborers for 10 years. When that period expired, Congress continued
the exclusion unilaterally until the immigration law of 1924 excluded,
in effect, all Asians. In 1943 the acts were repealed.
excerpt from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. FULL
The fight for immigration restriction was fueled by America’s
negative view of foreigners. Protestants especially made it a point
to link alcohol with Catholic Irish immigrants. It was believed that
this group of immigrants held their primary allegiance to a foreign
sovereign over loyalty to the United States. This anti Catholicism was
a driving force behind the popularity of the KKK. The fact that the
KKK adamantly discriminated against the Irish Catholics may seem surprising
because the majority of today’s population would assume that the
Klan’s members encompassed any person who appeared to be Caucasian.
from Treatment of Irish Catholic Immigrants During the 1920’s by Sonia Deif
Read more about prejudice against Irish immigrants here.
Upon entry into the new world, Italian immigrants were made to feel unwelcome as they were greeted with numerous discriminations. The American press printed cruel and biased remarks in their descriptions of Italian immigrants. Italians were labeled as ignorant, poor, unskilled and lazy. References often linking Italians to the Mafia were also included in these articles, and the Italian was portrayed only in the negative. This caused residents in the community to view the Italian immigrant as a threat to their social and economic status. They saw Italian immigrants as inferior, illiterate, dirty, lazy, and unable to contribute positively to society.
Racism was another discrimination which plagued the Italian immigrant. According to Michael Novak, "Italians, along with other immigrants, were victims of the 'white racism' of that time--they were portrayed as socially disorganized and lacking in freedom and responsibility. Italians were also viewed as swarthy, unstable Mediterraneans, and part of a papist plot to control America." FULL TEXT
help for Polish speakers
In May 2003, US Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) asked the US Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the branch of the federal
government that works to reduce job-related discrimination based on
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – to make key documents
for people who have been discriminated against in the workplace available
who don't speak English well are often the first to be taken advantage
of at work – if they even get the job they want in the first place,"
Schumer said. "The US government should be helping those most at
risk of illegal discrimination – and it should be making that
information available to people in a language they understand,"
Schumer said in a letter to Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission.
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